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If you are planning a holiday in a country in the European Union (EU) you might be wondering whether your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is still valid after Brexit.

If you go on holiday in 2020, you will still be able to use your EHIC.

What happens in 2021 and beyond will be decided in negotiations on the future relationship between the UK an the EU.

The EHIC currently entitles you to state-provided medical treatment if you fall ill or have an accident in any EU country, or in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, where the scheme also applies.

The UK has issued 27 million EHIC cards.

They cover pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care as well as emergency care. Individuals with chronic illnesses, for example those who require dialysis, can travel knowing they will receive treatment on the same terms as the citizens of the country they are visiting.

Transition period

The UK is currently in a transition period until 31 December 2020, during which your EHIC will remain valid.

Under the terms of the Brexit deal, the transition could be extended by one or two years, but the UK government has ruled that out.

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What happens to the EHIC in the future will be decided as part of the negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship.

The UK government said it was "seeking agreements with countries on health care arrangements for UK nationals".

In September last year the government issued detailed country by country advice on health care when travelling abroad, in the event that there is no deal to continue EHIC.

It recommended to those travelling to buy travel insurance to cover health care "just as you would if visiting a non-EU country".

Healthcare deals with non-EU countries

The UK has reciprocal health insurance deals with a few non-EU countries, including Australia and New Zealand, under which visitors can receive urgent treatment at a reduced cost or for free.

In other words, visitors are treated as if they are resident in the country in question. But unlike EHIC, the agreements do not cover pre-existing conditions.

These reciprocal deals will be unaffected by Brexit or future UK-EU negotiations.

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